Antonio Conte talks about ‘important’ Tottenham defender Eric Dier ahead of potential England return

Dier has been tipped to return to Southgate’s England side for the first time in almost two years after establishing himself as the kingpin at the heart of Conte’s back three.

The Tottenham head coach says he can see Dier’s desire to become a top defender “every day in his eyes” and has challenged the 28-year-old to score more goals.

“Now in England we are talking about the best and toughest league in the world and now Eric is [at] a high level of defenders,” Conte said of Dier, whose last England cap came against Iceland in November 2020.

“I see other defenders and if I try to make a comparison, I think you have to put in big money if you want to sign him, but Tottenham don’t want to sell him.

“Eric has improved a lot since I arrived. Of course we are talking about a reliable player. If he deserves to go [with England] Whether or not depends on what national team coach Southgate thinks.

“I have too much respect for him to say anything bad or try to convince him.

“The big improvement about Eric is that he is now a 100% focused player in every game,” added Conte. “He’s a reliable player. He’s not a player who alternates performances – big performances or sometimes you drop.

“He provides great continuity in his role. For me, he is a really important player. He plays every game. I can tell you that he is a very good guy with a great will, a great desire to work and to improve. He knows very well that he has room to improve. I see every day in his eyes the desire to become stronger, stronger, stronger. To become a top defender. I see in his eyes.”

Dier scored a nodding header in Spurs’ 4-1 win over Southampton on Matchday 1, and Conte continued: “He has to keep going that way, with his attention, with his focus and his desire. Of course in set pieces if he still scores goals, I’m happier.

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“I think maybe a player like him who is so tall, so physically strong needs to be more effective in going for corners and set pieces to score more goals. I find him one more situation to try to improve.”

After failing to score in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at West Ham, Harry Kane can equal Thierry Henry’s Premier League record of 42 goals in the London derbies against Fulham on Saturday.

Conte said it was “a pity” Kane didn’t have a team trophy to go along with his many individual accolades and milestones, but said the England captain was determined to change that.

“The records point out that you’re doing something special, and I think Harry in his career is doing something special in [terms of] personal accomplishments because it’s such a shame with so many great personal accomplishments and you don’t win [trophies]”, Conte said.


“Usually when you score a lot of goals for your national team and your club, you deserve to have a good win on your back, but we try to work and help him find and achieve that goal. You know very good for us that Harry is important and we are talking about a world-class striker but I see in him the desire, the desire to do something special.

“When you win it means you lift trophies, the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup and with the national team the Euros, the World Cup and those are trophies you have to lift and you talk of a top player and I think he deserves it.”

Earlier on Thursday, Conte played down the short-term prospects of Djed Spence, Bryan Gil (both 21) and Pape Matar Sarr breaking into his squad, but he insisted Ryan Sessesgnon, 21, who could start against his former club on Saturday, is in a different category.

“We’re talking about a very good player, a young player who can get stronger but that’s the difference between other young players,” Conte said of the winger.

“We are talking about a player who plays many games and is reliable for every game, not just tomorrow or the FA Cup, for every game he is ready.”

standard Sport

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